Israel’s TinyTap snags million-dollar Verizon prize

An educational app that lets parents and teachers tailor-make games, activities, and e-books wins a top award

TinyTap's user interface (Photo credit: Courtesy)
TinyTap's user interface (Photo credit: Courtesy)

TinyTap, an Israeli start-up that has developed an easy to use platform allowing parents and teachers to design games for kids, is a million dollars richer Thursday, after having been chosen as one of the winners of the Verizon Powerful Answers award. TinyTap was one of three chosen for the million-dollar award, winning the award for best education idea.

The award, given out by the cellular giant to companies that came up with “powerful solutions to the world’s toughest challenges,” was distributed Wednesday night in Las Vegas, as part of the festivities surrounding the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Hundreds of companies from around the world participated in the contest, which gave away $10 million to 15 companies in three categories (Education, Healthcare, and Sustainability). TinyTap was one of the three winners of the top prize, while four other companies in each category won lesser sums of money.

TinyTap, available on iOS and Android (and meant ideally for use on tablets), provides tools to create educational games for the young crowd, taking into account their specific needs and interests. For example, a user can create a puzzle or “chutes and ladders” type game out of a family photo, design games to encourage children to recognize numbers, letters or words, teach kids the names of different parts of the body (nose, mouth, etc.), or even design e-books specifically geared to children, with photos of family members, drawings, music, etc.

What’s unique about TinyTap – and what got the start-up the million dollar prize – is not just that it lets anyone turn content into a full-fledged educational app appropriate for iPads and iPhones or Android tablets and devices without requiring even one line of programming, but also that it is the world’s first, and so far only, educational app platform based on user-generated content. The platform allows users to develop games and activities in dozens of languages (Hebrew included). Users can upload their creations for the benefit of all, or even sell it in the TinyTap store.

TinyTap was established in 2012 by Yogav Shelly and Oren Elbaz, with $500,000 funding from micro-VC Inimiti. Now, a million dollars richer, the company says it will concentrate on expanding its offerings and reach. “TinyTap would have never made it this far without our unbelievable community,” the company said. “Thank you for teaching us more than we could ever hope for.”

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